Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: Samuel Hayward's Sketchbook, 1800

Sketchbook of Samuel Hayward
Drawn in France, 1800
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This portable sketchbook, once owned by artist John Samuel Hayward (1778-1822) (he preferred to be called “Samuel”), contains studies of landscapes, towns and figures, notes on the artist’s travels in France and on the manufacture of the floor-cloth which was Hayward's primary business. Hayward used this sketchbook to sketch rapidly from nature. It seems that Hayward, rather abstractly for his time, did not feel bound by artistic conventions in his compositions, but, instead, worked freely from observing life, using the paper as a palette to test his colors.

Hayward was the son of a floor-cloth manufacturer and later took on his father's business despite the fact that he would have preferred to become a fulltime artist. He was a friend of the celebrated watercolorist Joshua Cristall (1768-1847), who Hayward met when Cristall first worked at the calico printing works at Old Ford in London. The two young men collaborated on painting a panorama of Constantinople when Cristall (typing this name correctly is killing me since I keep, naturally, omitting the “t” and adding an “i” to the end) came to London to establish himself as a professional artist.

Though Hayward remained an amateur, he managed to be exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1798 to 1816 and was Secretary of The Sketching Society, to which he was elected in 1803. He famously made sketching trips around Britain and to France and Italy.  One of the most prolific amateur artists of his day, Hayward promoted the growing enthusiasm for working directly from nature.  This sketchbook, showing scenes of France, demonstrates that passion.

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